Ottawa

Deputy chief welcomes 'full and fair investigation' into harassment complaint

Uday Jaswal, deputy police chief of the Ottawa Police Service, says he welcomes a "full and fair investigation" into allegations he sabotaged a civilian employee's effort to become a police constable after she rejected his advances.

Woman alleges Uday Jaswal sabotaged her attempt to become an Ottawa police officer

Deputy Chief Uday Jaswal is the subject of a human rights complaint from a civilian employee who says he sexually harassed her and interfered in her attempt to become a constable. (Twitter)

Ottawa's deputy police chief says he welcomes a "full and fair investigation" into allegations he sabotaged a civilian employee's efforts to become a police constable after she rejected his advances.

In her complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the woman said Uday Jaswal's attention, which included repeated requests for dates and one incident of unwanted physical touching, left her feeling "demeaned, humiliated and unsafe in my workplace."

According to her lawyer, the woman who filed the complaint did not want to speak publicly. CBC has decided not to identify her due to her fear of reprisal.

I'm going to continue to do the work that I do in serving the community of Ottawa through the Ottawa Police Service.- Deputy Chief Uday Jaswal

"I have nothing to hide," Jaswal told CBC News at Ottawa City Hall on Thursday, moments before walking into a meeting with Coun. Diane Deans, chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board. 

"I'm welcoming a full and fair investigation into those allegations. And in the interim, I'm going to continue to do the work that I do in serving the community of Ottawa through the Ottawa Police Service."

Both Jaswal and Ari Goldkind, his lawyer, confirmed Thursday he will not be suspended or placed on administrative duties during the investigation.

Began with a phone call

The woman said the unwanted attention began in the summer of 2015 when Jaswal, a superintendent at the time, called her on her personal cell phone even though she had never given him the number.

The woman said Jaswal asked her how she was doing after being sexually assaulted, another detail the woman said she never shared with him.

That winter, Jaswal asked her out for coffee, the woman said. She agreed to go, as she thought the request was work-related.

"He was a high-ranking supervisor within my direct chain of command," the woman told the tribunal.

However, Jaswal revealed to her he was hoping they could pursue a romantic relationship, the woman said — despite the fact she was already in one.

Over the next few months, the woman said she continued to decline Jaswal's requests for dates, telling him she was "not single and [not] looking to mingle in that way."

Harassment escalated 

The harassment escalated in May 2016, the woman said, when Jaswal texted her and said her profile photo on Twitter was "gorgeous."

When Jaswal continued to pester her for a date, the woman said her partner — now her husband — confronted him about it, first privately and then in front of Jaswal's colleagues on the force. She said she also alerted two managers about Jaswal's actions, hoping they'd take steps to end the unwanted advances.

But nothing happened, she said.  

Jaswal left the Ottawa force that summer to take a similar position with the Durham Regional Police Service. He spent nearly two years there, and is now being investigated by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission for allegedly harassing and intimidating members of that force.

He returned to Ottawa in July 2018 to become the force's deputy chief.

Jaswal said Thursday he welcomes the investigation into the woman's complaint, and vowed to continue 'serving the community of Ottawa' while it's looked into.

'Merely a pawn'

The woman said she was attending a retirement party in early 2019 for a police employee when Jaswal approached her.

"Jaswal intentionally and overtly rubbed his hand across my stomach and hip area as he walked by me," the woman told the tribunal, adding his actions were witnessed by another employee. 

Then, in June 2019, the woman alleged Jaswal "acted inappropriately and used his power as the deputy chief of the OPS to have me removed from the constable selection process." 

"The culmination of these events has led me to realize that I was never, and perhaps never will be, viewed by deputy chief Jaswal as a person, let alone a professional colleague worthy of dignity and respect," she wrote. 

"As a woman, I was merely a pawn in his end-game of personal sexual gratification [and was] specifically targeted because he perceived me as a vulnerable, easy target."

Complaints baseless, lawyer says

The woman is seeking $250,000, as well as an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and "further in-depth training on sexual harassment."

In a statement to CBC News, Goldkind said the woman's complaint lacks credibility.  

"Deputy Chief Jaswal believes that the residents of Ottawa and the human rights tribunal will see these allegations, and the clear motive behind them, for exactly what they are," Goldkind wrote. 

Once all the witnesses and documents are made public, "these allegations will be looked at very, very differently than they are at first blush," he added.

Goldkind gave no details as to what the alleged motive behind the complaint would be.

Police board calls for investigation by police watchdog

In a statement released Thursday, the Ottawa Police Services Board said the complaint against Jaswal "contains serious allegations that if substantiated, may constitute misconduct." 

The board said it has asked the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) to investigate the complaint and report its findings to the board "including whether an immediate suspension is warranted."

The board said it also asked Ottawa's interim chief Steve Bell to ensure the police service is not "compromised in any way" as Jaswal continues in his role as deputy chief.

The lawyer representing the complainant, Paul Champ, said his client learned Jaswal was continuing in his role as deputy chief through the board's press release.

"The Board is the employer and has not informed my client about how she will be protected during this process, since apparently deputy chief Jaswal is being allowed to continue in his position," wrote Champ in an emailed statement to CBC.  

"This is the MeToo moment for the Ottawa Police, unfortunately the Board is choosing to pass the buck," he added. 

"I am sure that every woman in the Ottawa Police will be watching closely how this matter is handled by the Board."

With files from Laurie Fagan, Idil Mussa, Krystalle Ramlakhan and Trevor Pritchard